Zenoss CEO: Why Cisco UCS Is Winning Against Hyper-Converged Offerings

Zenoss At The Zenith

Zenoss CEO Greg Stock is leading his company to a whopping 165 percent growth in sales, staff growth of 40 percent and its highest number of new customers for the company added in a quarter.

The Austin, Texas-based developer of unified IT monitoring and service analytics for virtual, physical and cloud-based IT infrastructures reported the growth for its second quarter ending June 30, while also being selected as one of a handful of companies for Cisco's new Intercloud Application Developers Program.

Stock talked to CRN about Zenoss' strategic partnership with Cisco, the importance of open source in 2015 and why the networking giant's UCS is winning against hyper-converged offerings. Following are excerpts of the conversation.

You have a partnership with Cisco as an OEM vendor for Cisco UCS. Why is UCS a better choice compared to its competition?

Zenoss has many customers using Cisco UCS, thanks to the great depth of coverage built during our five-year technical partnership with Cisco. They tell us that they choose UCS for two reasons: the simplicity of the unified fabric and the ability to use software to define computing resources. The combination creates the agility and flexibility that CIOs are seeking to redeploy resources to meet changing business conditions.

With Cisco ACI and UCS, Cisco is offering the broadest set of ready-to-use products for the software-defined data center. This enables customers to achieve the flexibility and efficiency that they need to build the next-generation data center.

How does UCS stack up against hyper-converged offerings like those from Nutanix or SimpliVity?

Cisco UCS is the No. 1 blade server in North America, so it's clearly competing very effectively. Both our enterprise and MSP clients standardize on UCS for converged infrastructure. Hyper-converged offerings provide value in many situations, but established companies are still choosing Cisco solutions because of the reputation, support and industry leadership Cisco delivers. As they help to drive demand for our solutions, we will continue to follow the hyper-converged vendors with great interest.

Do you think Cisco is increasing its overall open-source DevOps capabilities?

We're really excited that Cisco is increasingly publishing new APIs for software developers like us to use. Regardless of whether the underlying technologies are open source or not, we're thrilled that we can quickly build new customer function on top of APIs like those for Cisco ACI and UCS including UCS Central and UCS Director.

When you look at the continued commitment Cisco is providing to Zenoss and the fact that Zenoss has its roots in open source, it is clear that Cisco embraces open-source capabilities.

What will happen to solution providers/VARs if they don't start adopting and selling more open solutions?

Customer organizations want to use many of the same technologies that cloud providers use so that they can easily move their applications between their own data centers and public cloud data centers. They're looking for partners who can help them with this, and those relationships are as, if not more, important than the technologies involved.

Customers are selecting partners who become part of their IT team and help them achieve real returns from their investments. Without a truly customer-centric, consultative approach and the inclusion of more open, flexible solutions in that mix, providers risk being viewed as little more than 'middlemen' collecting their markup.

How important is it to have open-sourced technologies in 2015? What do you see as the industry trend here?

What we're seeing in the market currently is a shifting focus around select open-source technologies that are the foundation of cloud computing: broad use of OpenStack, KVM and XenServer gives cloud providers the tools they need to build a data center that cloud customers can use with confidence. When cloud providers build on open source, they free their customers to choose providers without worrying about vendor lock-in.

Zenoss' roots are open source, with more than 35,000 customers using our free open-source software -- Zenoss Core -- and hundreds of customers using our commercially licensed open-source software Zenoss Service Dynamics.

As a Software-as-a-Service company, do you feel the average solution provider/VAR even needs to sell hardware at this point?

Yes. Customers are looking for ongoing expertise, and that starts with selecting and deploying the correct hardware. Many of those customers want to buy through a single entity to provide the full stack, so hardware, while commoditized, does need to be offered. But with converged data center solutions, the hardware becomes less differentiated and those margins drop. We believe that partners will achieve the majority of their margin not through hardware, but through software and services solutions based on that hardware.

What made you want to join Cisco's Intercloud application developers program as an ISV?

Shadow IT and the changing role of the CIO will undoubtedly bring CIOs to the marketplace when they're looking for cloud-based applications. Our Zenoss Service Dynamics was the only service assurance solution announced for the Cisco Intercloud Marketplace.

Our vision is completely aligned with Cisco's vision of delivering not just infrastructure, but complete solutions for modern data centers. The marketplace will be the global storefront for curated applications, services and solutions, so when Cisco asked us to join, it was an easy decision.

How will Zenoss benefit from the Intercloud marketplace? How will the marketplace spur growth for your company?

The marketplace brings us to the most forward-thinking organizations in the world -- their customers. CIOs need to help their business take advantage of opportunities globally and the marketplace provides global access, regional delivery and unified global billing.

With this new capability to run in a multitude of cloud environments worldwide comes an even bigger challenge for the CIO office to maintain visibility into what's happening with the organization's workloads globally.

Zenoss Service Assurance offers a unified view of both application and infrastructure health and supports the intelligent data center today. By offering ZSA through the Intercloud marketplace, we will see accelerated adoption and growth of our technology globally, while adding another dimension to our already strong partnership with Cisco.

You announced a new partner program in late 2014 to try to recruit more partners. How many new partners has Zenoss on-boarded?

We've on-boarded 25 partners worldwide since the[program] was announced last fall including Wipro, OnX, Data3, Technologent, Epcom, Epic, Kovarus, Impex, Novipro, InnovaSys and HPM.